Individual Rights & Due Process The Magna Carta
Faced with the possibility of civil war, a politically weak King John is forced by the upper classes to sign a pledge to respect their rights, be bound by the law, and
forbid arbitrary punishment. This pledge, the Magna Carta, is considered to be one of the most significant documents in English legal history. When it is signed on
June 15, 1215, it is merely a listing of royal concessions, but it will come to guarantee such legal rights as the right to due process and a hearing before one's peers. In
the early 17th century, Sir Edward Coke, Chief Justice under James I, holds that basic liberties for all British citizens not just the aristocracy are
guaranteed by the Magna Carta. He declares, furthermore, that any act of Parliament that goes against common law is null and void. This ruling is said to be the basis
for the U.S. Supreme Court, which has the power to nullify laws enacted by Congress.